When I started at HarperCollins, I didn't know what to expect, from the books, from the job, from anything! I had dozens of backlist titles to read and those first few weeks are still a bit of a blur.

One of those books was Jacquelyn Mitchard's THE BREAKDOWN LANE. I remember picking it up, starting to read, and everything around me stopping; the craziness, the million other stories that were careening around in my head. They all stopped. And the voice of Jackie Mitchard's narrator, Julianne Ambrose Gillis, is all I heard.

Julianne is an advice columnist for her small town Wisconsin newspaper. But she's the one who needs the advice when her husband of twenty years decides to leave both her and their family. His decision is completely out of the blue and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to his departure.

After he leaves, Julianne is diagnosed with a serious illness. Their kids go looking for their father and...well, what they find isn't what they expected. That, for me, was what I took away from the novel. Nothing is ever going to be like we expect. We just kind of have to roll with the punches.

There's something about the way Jackie writes. I think it's an inherent authenticity in her characters, in her dialogue that really resonates with me. She creates these fully formed, well, lives that make you feel as though you're peeking through the window shades of your next door neighbor. (But without the guilt!) You have these regular people to whom terrible and wonderful things happen. You can't help but truly empathize with these fictional characters as if they were real people you'd known for years.

I made it through the first awkward few months. I've been at Harper for three years now and I've read more books than I could count. But THE BREAKDOWN LANE really sticks with me, more like a memory than a book.

Discovering new authors and great books is one of the (many) highlights of working in editorial. I really found my niche, but being an editorial assistant is one hard job to learn. Totally worth it but you have days where nothing seems to go right and it feels like you'll never get the hang of it.

Have any of you ever started a job where you knew it was what you wanted to do but the sheer volume of work was almost overwhelming enough to make you change your mind? What did you do to get through it? For me, it was all worth it in the end. Was it for you?

7 Comments:

Anonymous Daryl W.T. Lau said:

Boy... I've seen quite a few Blogspot blogs in my time but yours take the cake for one of the best of the lot. So suitable to your content and great content at that too.

Keep up the great work ladies!

Cheers!

9:45 AM  

Blogger Amie Stuart said:

I think I'd go so far as to say that there are many days being a writer can be overwhelming --not in the work as much as in the enormity of what you've gotten yourself into. But yes, it's definitely worth it!

11:32 AM  

Blogger limecello said:

Wow, this was a great blog. I'm going to have to find that book...
As to jobs... well I've never had a "real" one - too much schooling - but I have taken things on where I start, and think "what on earth have I done?" An example would be senior year of college, deciding to write an honors thesis in each of my majors. Second quarter. Ack.

12:08 PM  

Blogger Mary Castillo said:

When I was reporter, I'd go to bed with what felt like rocks lodged in my stomach. I was one of three reporters on staff and because I was fast on my feet, I ended up with most of the story load. Every week it felt like there wouldn't be a paper if I dropped all the balls I was juggling. Some times I miss it but mostly, I'm grateful to be writing books!

Congratulations on surviving your job!

Best,
Mary

4:23 PM  

Blogger Tracey Devlyn said:

I come home from work many days with the hand of failure gripped around my heart, always reminding me of its presence.

Being an HR professional, employees come to me on a daily basis for advice. I have been affectionately called the "counselor" by many of my buddies at work. It's a wonderful feeling to make a difference in someone's life, even if it's in a small way. And it's terribly frightening. After all, who am I to give others advice?

After four years, I'm only now feeling comfortable in my own shoes. But, the hand of failure still clutches greedily to my heart - no matter how much experience I gain.

In a way, I'm thankful for its not-so-gentle reminder. It keeps me sharp, it keeps me caring.

Take care, Tracey

11:05 PM  

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8:06 PM  

Blogger Matthew S. Urdan said:

Hello ladies...Thanks for advertising on my EnterCard widget. I love your blog, although romance is not exactly my favorite genre. Did you read my review of Joyce Carol Oates' "The Falls" on my blog today?

Thanks again, keep on battling, keep on dropping!

12:44 PM  

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